I am within weeks of delivering my second baby. I have been thinking lately about whatI expect it will be like to have two boys under two. How do I imagine it will be? I have been wondering this because it is my sincere hope that I can let those thoughts go. Things will likely turn out differently than I imagined them to be.
I know first hand that when walking into uncharted territory, you can plan to the hilt but life just grows wild. I have seen this scenario played out many times in my life. The season that comes to my mind right now is when I became a mother for the first time.
My third trimester carrying Riley was marked by heartburn and insomnia. Everyone would joke with me that it was my body's way of preparing me for the lack of sleep I would experience. I fully expected interrupted sleep. I fully expected to be exhausted. I was already feeling very tired. I fully expected that in three or four months my baby would begin sleeping through the night fairly regularly.
My son is now nearly 20months old and has yet to sleep through the night. In his life he has maybe made it through the night 5 times. And by "through the night" I mean at least a 5 hour stretch.
Expectations. When I gazed into motherhood I saw my husband and I putting our little one down to bed and then settling in for a glass of wine, adult conversation, maybe a movie or a board game. I saw our pre-baby life continuing while baby Riley was tucked away in his crib.
Reality. We are glassy eyed with exhaustion. I may or may not have been able to shower. Riley may have gone down to bed just fine but in a matter of two or three hours he will be awake and inconsolable unless he is touching one of us. It is a mad dash to try and finish something, like maybe a thought, while he is still sleeping. We aren't really talking to each other but at just trying desperately to catch each other up on pertinent need to know information.
Things are getting easier in a way. We are adjusting to this life and finding a new way to be couple as well as parents. Our new reality is beginning to feel like a sort of manageable routine. We may be just getting the hang of this new life and we are on the brink of big change.
I love being a mom and I am excited to be adding to our family. I am going into this new season fully expecting my world to be turned upside down, again. But then again, I thought that before. I knew that the first time too, yet unrealistic expectations were still ever present.
Things I am trying to do differently this time:
Ask for advice if I want, but not for the sake of comparison. In other words, not question my competency as a mother when my children don't preform like someone else's. I can admit that sometimes I take the temperature of other moms to see how I am doing as a mom. I might ask, "So, is your little one sleeping through the night?" I am hoping they say no, because that makes me ok. If they say yes, I want to know how they did it. Mostly, I have found that they haven't done anything I haven't done; their baby just sleeps longer. The comparison made me feel bad and I am the one who sought it out. No more self punishment!
Allow for imperfection. I realize things are going to be different and maybe even harder when number two gets here. When the expectations I have, and am not even aware of, begin creeping into my thoughts, I am going to try and let them go. When the picture I have in my mind of myself as a mom of two begins looking a lot better than the girl I really see in the mirror. I am going to try and like the girl I really am better. She's funnier and more down to earth anyway.
Smile and nod through unsolicited advice. It will happen. Trying to argue or defend against it only produces more of the same.
No more seeking sympathy. I will tell my story if it builds another up, not just because it is worse than theirs. While in my sleep deprived depth, I would scoff at the mom who might complain about her baby waking once or twice in the night. She would complain of how tired she felt. This would prompt me to chime in with my own and far more gruesome nightly horror story of sleep torture. This was not helpful. We all have our cross to bare. Perhaps my son has sleeping problems, but we have never dealt with any problematic separation anxiety, or food allergies, or picky eaterness, or.....the list goes on. Motherhood is wrought with unexpecteds. It is better to all be on the same mommy team. Tired is tired, weather you were disturbed twice in the night or countless times. We can all relate to tired.
Hold my hubby's hand tightly as we start our new adventure. This is a biggy! I am fortunate to not be in this whole parenthood thing alone. My heartbreaks for those who are alone in it. They have a set of challenges that are very different from mine. I hope they are able to find the support they need. Ryan and I need to support each other. We are the ones who really get what life is like in our home and we are the ones responsible.
We need to be honest and hold each other up. With Riley, Ryan didn't realize that Riley had such sleeping difficulties until June. Riley was born in August. I protected him from that reality because he needed to go to work in the morning and I didn't want him to think I was incompetent at this whole mommy thing. I deprived myself of his support and that sometimes caused resentment and misunderstandings between us. I felt he didn't understand. In all fairness, how could he? This time I will try not to pretend I have it all together, especially not to Ryan. I need him and he needs my honesty in order to be supportive. Ryan knows by now that I am not a perfect mom, but he also knows how hard I try. He picked me to be the mom of his children and he wants to be a part of it all, good and less good. Is motherhood just as you expected? What expectations do you need to let go of?